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WSOC PREVIEW | Goal scoring critical for Dons in 2014

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Posted August 11, 2014 by in

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by Zack Farmer | @Zack_Farmer

The Dons continued to make strides in 2013, especially defensively as the team recorded six shutouts and dropped seven matches by a single goal. However, USF managed to score just 12 goals on the season, including four in its last 13 matches en route to a 6-10-4 finish.

Third-year head coach Jim Millinder is confident his program is getting closer to turning the corner with aspirations of competing for a West Coast Conference championship, traditionally one of the top women’s soccer conferences in the nation.

“There’s excitement in the air the closer we get to preseason, you can just feel it,” Millinder said. “You’ve got a clean slate, we all start all over again. Everybody is ambitious.”

He said the mental toughness of his team is what needs to change.

“We got off to a great start, [but] I think we’ve got to be mentally stronger because things aren’t always going to go our way,” he said. “They’re not going to go your way so you have to weather the storm and not fold and lose what we have mentally upstairs.”

That experience from last year should serve the Dons well as they return 10 of its 11 starters, including senior striker Mackenzie Krieser and junior goalkeeper Madalyn Schiffel, and add another strong recruiting class that could quickly vie for playing time and spots in the starting lineup.

“I think it’s the best group we’ve ever had,” Millinder said. “From our strikers to our midfielders to our defenders coming in, they’re going to compete for a lot of playing time. To be honest, two, three, four may displace some of the starters and they’re going to give them a run for their money in the preseason.

Millinder has expects this team to be better offensively, especially after a strong spring campaign where the team went 2-2-1 and displayed more offensive firepower.

“The biggest thing is we’ve got to score goals,” Millinder said. “We had a lot of chances last year and we just didn’t put our chances away. [That was something] we concentrated on in the spring and we were productive in the spring in regards to scoring goals.”

STRIKERS

The Dons return Mackenzie Krieser, who has started 56 games in her first three seasons. After scoring nine goals as a sophomore in 2012, Krieser found the back of the net just twice last season. Millinder is confident she can return to her 2012 form, which earned her All-WCC second team honors.

“I think she’s got the ability to score 10, 12 goals for us this year,” said Millinder.

Junior Alex Alugas and sophomore Amanda Whittle will also play major roles on the front line. Both players scored two goals last season and Whittle was tied for the team lead in points with six.

Joining this group will be incoming freshmen Sonja Giraud (Wangen, Germany / Max-Weber Schule), Carissa Martine (Arleta, Calif. / Bishop Alemany HS) and Maddy Glaser (San Juan Capistrano, Calif. / Serra Catholic HS), who will immediately compete for significant playing time. Giraud competed with the U-19 German team in the European qualifiers this spring. Martine was an All-Mission League second team selection and Glaser has been on the OC Varsity Top Players to Watch list the last two seasons.

“We’ve got a lot of good kids coming in. It’s going to be an interesting preseason to see who get these starting nods,” Millinder said.

MIDFIELDERS

Jaciara Mello, who will captain the 2014 Dons, proved to be one of the more solid midfielders in the WCC last season and Millinder will count on the senior to be a stabilizing force again this year.

“She’s the hub of our midfield. I expect big things from Jaci this year,” Millinder said. “People look up to her. She wants her senior season to be the best ever. We’re going to rely on Jaci a lot.”

Sophomore Jessica Nakae will also make her return after a stellar freshman campaign that saw her earn WCC All-Freshman Team honors.

“As you talk about these players, they all had good seasons but not good enough so we’ve all got to work to make ourselves better,” Millinder said.

Newcomers Allison Arriola and Camille Wilson should compete for starting roles. Arriola played against Nakae while at Torrance (Calif.) High School and Wilson, a standout performer at Marin Catholic High School (Kentfield, Calif.), was a member of the Philippine National Team.

BACK LINE

The back line for USF starts with goalkeeper Madalyn Schiffel, who recorded six shutouts, fourth in the WCC, and allowed just one goal in 10 other matches last season. One of the top collegiate keepers in the nation, Schiffel was invited to the USA U-20 National Team camp.

“You got Maddie Schiffel in goal and she’s one of the best in America,” Millinder said. “We’re going to rely on Maddie a lot to carry us in the back, which she did last season.”

Senior Abigail Phillips and sophomore Ali Schaffer will be back as well and for Schaffer, she aims for an injury-free season after playing much of last year with a knee injury.

“She was a [amazing] last year for us in the back. We relied on her a lot. I think she’ll regain her form and come back,” Millinder said.

All-WCC performer Halle Bissin will miss the season with a knee injury, which opens the door for juniors Leticia Torres, Sydnie Telson and Ally Beck to vie for time on the back line.

“This is the most competitive group of players we’ve had and the most competition for positions since I’ve been here,” Millinder said.

USF 2014 Women’s Soccer Schedule

USF 2014 Women’s Soccer Roster


About the Author

Alforde Joaquin

ALF’s passion for shooting and editing has earned him several awards including an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2006 for Videography. He was also a nominee for the National Edward R. Murrow Award for Videography. A 6-time Emmy recipient for five different categories: Director/Producer, Videography, Editing, Feature Segment and Sound Mixing, Alf has produced over 1,000 video segments and is committed to developing GetSportsFocus as one of the best sports video magazine on the web.

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